Over the next few years, the transformation of the Bournemouth Air Festival to a green, sustainable event, looking towards the future will be of increasing importance. Steven Johnson’s book The Invention of Air may contain some clues.
The story is centred upon Joseph Priestly (1733-1804), whose multi-faceted talents as scientist, theologian, political thinker led him to the discovery of oxygen, the establishment of Unitarianism, and to his flight from England to America after his house was burnt down.
Johnson emphasises continually throughout his book the importance of the free flow of ideas – he is himself known as one of the creative thinkers about the internet – and the inter-connexions between science, politics and faith.
Those who come currently to see the Bournemouth Air Show are interested in spectacle, with a high emphasis on the past and the military, and many of them are families.
While the initial work is on the aggressive reduction of carbon emissions and waste at the Festival itself, broader, longer-term thinking is necessary to begin to enable it to play a key role at the heart of a debate on the future of air travel.
Linking with Johnson’s thesis suggests the possibility of introducing a global perspective, with the help of the language schools which exist in abundance in Bournemouth. Young people come from all over the world to study English. Young people are also at the forefront of those recognising the imperative for change; they lead the twitter and facebook revolution; they are in communication with others worldwide and they love music.
These elements may provide us with a basis.
We are struggling and would appreciate any help that you are able to give.
The story so far:
Over the past few years, Bournemouth Borough Council has adopted two apparently contradictory policies. On the one hand, it has become the first local authority in the country to endorse the Earth Charter (www.earthcharter.org ); on the other, it is sponsoring an Air Festival in which the main attraction (to an estimated 1 million visitors over a 4 day period, providing the town with approx £30 million income), is an Air Show.
We are all struggling to develop from this problematic, challenging and exciting place – and have strong commitments but no money!
There is a theoretical commitment from the key stakeholders (Council, Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Management Board, environment groups, University etc.) to transform the Air Show into a sustainable, environmentally friendly, ‘Festival of the Air’ but the practical implications are huge and in order to do this Bournemouth is going to need considerable outside support, understanding and ideas.
We are looking towards ‘transformation’ in a series of manageable and emergent ‘steps’ but know that it can only be achieved if there is vision, will and resources.
Would you be interested and able to help us? We are certainly needing outside support, understanding and ideas to transform from where we are now in a series of short term and longer term ‘hops’: the long-term direction is to a Festival of the Air in the widest (and purest) sense.
I’m hoping that Countryfile (a BBC Programme) might also provide support in some way.
We are a not for profit organisation and whilst Claire, Luke and myself all work in the live events sector, A Greener Festival doesn’t stage events itself nor do we provide bespoke environmental advice or consultation. We are all volunteers and we don’t have the time or the resources. Our main focus in our awards scheme, details of which you have probably found at www.agreenerfestival.com , our research, our ‘great big green ideas’ competition and the website itself which provids widespread advice on greening events and environmental good practice.
So it depend on what sort of help you are looking for. We are open to dialogue – but it may be best to exclude certain things we cannot provide – like finance, advice on staging events or bespoke ‘green’ advice (except as part of the AGF awards scheme). So we may be of no use at all!
Please forgive me if reponses are slow, we are obviously in the middle of the UK, US and European festival season so this email account is not always checked daily when we are away.